Daily Current Affairs and GK | 23 January 2024

By Priyanka Chaudhary | Last Modified: 23 Jan 2024 17:04 PM IST

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Topic: International News

1. After 16 years of negotiations, Switzerland and India have agreed on a free-trade agreement.

  • Swiss Economy Minister Guy Parmelin said that Switzerland and India have agreed on a free-trade agreement.
  • It will create jobs for the young population of India, and secure employment in Switzerland.
  • The bilateral trade between India & Switzerland was US$25 Billion approx during FY 2021-22. Trade in services was about US$ 2 Billion.
  • India is Switzerland’s 7th largest trading partner and Switzerland is the 12th largest investor in India.
  • India mainly exports organic chemicals, pearls, precious stones and jewellery, textiles and garments, dyestuffs, and electrical machinery to Switzerland.
  • Switzerland exports chemicals & pharmaceuticals, machinery, transport equipment, precision engineering products and watches.
  • A free trade agreement reduces barriers to imports and exports between countries by reducing tariffs, quotas, subsidies and prohibitions.

Topic: Art and Culture    

2. Desert Festival 2024 will be held in Jaisalmer from 22 to 24 February.

  • This year, the theme for the festival is “Back to the Desert”.
  • The festival will begin with a procession from Lakshminath temple.
  • Giving space to local artists will be the priority of the festival this year.
  • Preparations for the festival have started with a meeting held under the chairmanship of district collector Pratap Singh.
  • The meeting was held with citizens, hoteliers, tourism operators, artists and others to seek their suggestions.

Topic: Summits/Conferences/Meetings

3. Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated the Centre of Excellence in Digital Forensics.

  • He also inaugurated an International Conference on Behavioural Forensics at the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 
  • The inaugural session was attended by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Chairman of National Human Rights Commission Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, and Gujarat Law and Justice Minister Rushikesh Patel.
  • Centre of Excellence in Digital Forensics will help in addressing crimes that are powered by the abuse of technology.
  • It will provide investigators with digital weaponry against cybercrime.
  • International Conference on Behavioural Forensics is being organised by NFSU in collaboration with National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and Gujarat State Human Rights Commission.
  • Nearly 600 delegates will take part in this conference. They will deliberate upon the Expanding Contours of Criminology.

Topic: Indian Economy

4. India has become the fourth largest equity market globally.

  • India has surpassed Hong Kong in stock market valuation.
  • India’s stock market has for the first time overtaken Hong Kong’s, with a combined market capitalisation of $4.33 trillion as against Hong Kong’s $4.29 trillion. 
  • Over $21 billion has been invested by overseas funds in Indian shares in 2023.
  • India’s stock market capitalization crossed $4 trillion for the first time on 05 December.
  • India's equity market has been booming because of robust corporate profitability and a steadily expanding pool of regular investors.
  • Since reaching their high in 2021, Hong Kong stocks have dropped by more than $6 trillion.
  • The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index ended a four-year record-breaking decline in 2023, and is already down nearly thirteen percent. It is a metric for Hong Kong-listed Chinese equities.
  • The measure is rapidly approaching its lowest point in over 20 years, but the benchmarks for Indian stocks are trading close to all-time highs.

Topic: Geography

5. An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hit in China, and tremors were felt in Delhi NCR.

  • According to the National Center for Seismology, a strong earthquake of 7.2 magnitude occurred in southern Xinjiang of China on January 23.
  • Strong earthquake tremors were also felt in the Delhi-NCR region, despite being approximately 1,400 kilometers away.
  • 14 aftershocks were felt after the primary earthquake, two of which measured greater than five.
  • The seismic event occurred a day after a landslide in southwest China buried several people, resulting in at least eight deaths.
  • In nearby Kazakhstan, there was a similar earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7.
  • The earthquake was also felt in Uzbekistan, with aftershocks occurring about 30 minutes later.
  • Earthquake:
    • Earthquake generally occurs due to the movement of tectonic plates.
    • Shallow earthquakes are generally more devastating because they carry more energy when they came out on the surface.
    • Deeper earthquakes are less devastating as they lose much of their energy by the time they come to the surface.
    • Western Himalayas is one of the most dangerous seismic zones in the world.

Topic: Corporates/Companies

6. Sony called off the $10 billion India Zee merger.

  • On January 22, Japan's Sony Group cancelled a planned $10 billion merger with India's Zee Entertainment.
  • Both sides are set to challenge each other legally over failures to fulfill the agreement that is reshaping the country's media landscape.
  • The collapse of a deal intended to create a media powerhouse in content-starved India has created more uncertainty for TV broadcaster Zee, especially at a time when competition is increasing.
  • Disney now wants to merge its Indian businesses with the media properties of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance to create one of India's largest entertainment empires.
  • Sony said in a statement that despite "good-faith discussions" with Zee, certain "closing conditions" of the merger were not satisfied, and the companies were unable to agree on an extension to the January 21 deadline.
  • Zee told Indian stock exchanges that Sony was seeking $90 million in termination fees and emergency interim relief "by invoking arbitration" for alleged violations of the merger agreement.
  • Zee shares are down about 8% from their levels before the merger was first announced in September 2021.
  • Zee was founded by Subhash Chandra in 1992. Sony was established in 1946. It is headquartered in Konan, Minato, Tokyo, Japan.
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Topic: Government Schemes and Initiatives

7. PM Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana.

  • Under this scheme, one crore households will get rooftop solar power systems.
  • The scheme will involve installing solar power systems on rooftops for residential consumers.
  • Rooftop Solar Programme was launched by the government in 2014.
  • It aimed to achieve a cumulative installed capacity of 40,000 megawatts (MW) or 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. 
  • The target was not achieved and the government changed the deadline from 2022 to 2026.
  • It aims to expand India’s rooftop solar installed capacity in the residential sector. It provides Central Financial Assistance to eligible projects and incentives to DISCOMs (distribution companies).
  • Due to this scheme, India’s rooftop solar capacity has risen from 1.8 GW as of March 2018 to 10.4 GW as of November 2023.
  • As of December 2023, solar power installed capacity in India is around 73.31 GW according to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • As of December 2023, rooftop solar installed capacity is around 11.08 GW.
  • Rajasthan has the highest total solar capacity of 18.7 GW. It is followed by Gujarat with 10.5 GW.
  • In terms of rooftop solar capacity, Gujarat is at the top with 2.8 GW. It is followed by Maharashtra with 1.7 GW.
  • The share of solar power in the country’s current renewable energy capacity is around 180 GW.
  • India aims to reach 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • India has doubled down on its coal production in recent years.
  • India has increased its solar power capacity from less than 10 MW in 2010 to 70.10 GW in 2023.

Topic: State News/Ladakh

8. AN-32 Courier Service has started in Kargil, Ladakh.

  • In the inaugural flight operated by Indian Air Force pilots, 11 passengers were transported from Kargil to Jammu and seven from Jammu to Kargil.
  • This initiative will play a key role in increasing regional connectivity and fostering economic development.
  • The aim of AN-32 Courier Service is to streamline travel, improving connectivity to and from Kargil.
  • The Chairman and CEC of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Dr Mohd Jaffer Akhoon welcomed Indian Air Force Pilots for the commencement of this crucial service.
  • UT's Civil Aviation Secretary Ravinder Dangi also welcomed Indian Air Force Pilots.

Topic: Defence

9. 11th edition of ‘Exercise KHANJAR’ commenced in Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh.

  • The 11th edition of India-Kyrgyzstan Joint Special Forces Exercise KHANJAR at the Special Forces Training School in Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh.
  • The exercise is scheduled from 22nd January to 3rd February 2024. It is an annual exercise conducted alternatively in both countries.
  • The Indian Army contingent is being represented by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment (Special Forces), while the Kyrgyzstan contingent is being represented by the Scorpion Brigade.
  • The exercise aims to exchange experiences and best practices in Counter Terrorism and Special Forces Operations.
  • This exercise will focus on developing Special Forces skills and advanced techniques of insertion and extraction.
  • This exercise will allow both sides to fortify defence ties while resolving common concerns of international terrorism and extremism.

Topic: Art and Culture

10. Madhika language of Kerala is on the brink of extinction.

  • Madhika language is spoken by the Chakaliya community near Karivellur grama panchayat in Kerala’s Kannur district.
  • There are only two speakers of Madhika language left. K.P. Narayanan and his niece Rajputhri are the only speakers of the Madhika language.
  • Madhika language has no script. It is a blend of Telugu, Tulu, Kannada, and Malayalam. 
  • This language is mainly influenced by Havyaka Kannada, an old form of the Kannada.
  • The Chakaliya community had migrated from the hilly regions of Karnataka.
  • Several members of the community still live in small numbers in areas such as Palakunnu, Kookanam, Pranthanchal, and Ezhilode.

Topic: Art and Culture

11. Five new galleries inaugurated at the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad.

  • On 21 January, five new galleries were inaugurated by Union Culture and Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy at the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Shri Reddy said that the Salar Jung Museum, one of the most prestigious museums in India, has reorganized the old galleries.
  • The museum has made efforts for innovation and upgrading by adding new galleries.
  • The Indian Sculpture Gallery has 40 old sculptures from the second century B.C., like the statue of Anantshayana Vishnu from the Kakatiya period.
  • There are three hundred unique objects in the Bidrikala gallery.
  • The European Bronze Gallery houses more than a hundred bronze sculptures, and the Marble Gallery houses fifty marble sculptures.

Topic: Defence

12. The biggest drill is scheduled to be held by NATO since the Cold War with 90,000 troops.

  • Chris Cavoli, the top coalition commander, said on January 18 that about 90,000 troops are scheduled to join the Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises that will last until May.
  • More than 50 ships ranging from aircraft carriers to destroyers will participate, along with more than 80 fighter jets, helicopters, and drones and at least 1,100 combat vehicles, including 133 tanks and 533 infantry fighting vehicles.
  • Steadfast Defender 2024 will demonstrate NATO's ability to rapidly deploy forces from North America and other parts of the alliance to strengthen the defense of Europe.
  • Troops taking part in the exercise, which will include bringing personnel to Europe as well as simulating exercises on the ground, will come from NATO countries and Sweden, which is expected to join the alliance soon.
  • During the second part of the Steadfast Defender exercise, special attention will be paid to the deployment of NATO's quick reaction force to Poland on the eastern flank of the alliance.
  • In 1988, the last exercises of a similar size were Reforger during the Cold War with 125,000 participants, and Trident Juncture in 2018 with 50,000 participants.

Topic: Books and Authors

13. A book titled ‘An Uncommon Love: The Early Life of Sudha and Narayana Murthy’ has been released.

  • ‘An Uncommon Love: The Early Life of Sudha and Narayana Murthy’ was authored by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
  • Sudha Kulkarni was forging a career as TELCO’s first woman engineer when she met the serious, idealistic and brilliant Narayana Murthy.
  • This book is about the sacrifices they made to forge a powerful and lasting marriage.
  • Narayana Murthy founded Infosys in 1981. He has been described as the "father of the Indian IT sector" .

Topic: Corporates/Companies

14. Tata Group won 5-year IPL sponsorship rights.

  • Tata Group bagged the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for 2024-28 for $300 million.
  • IPL has become the world’s richest T20 tournament with an estimated brand value of $8.4 billion.
  • Tata Group has been the title sponsor of both the men’s IPL and the Women’s Premier League.
  • Some IPL franchise owners decided to buy teams in T20 leagues in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, West Indies and the United States.
  • Indian Premier League (IPL) has fetched media rights of $6.2 billion.
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